I’ve been listening to a lot of new music lately. To do so, I use Spotify and, of course, Whooosh! Streaming serves a great purpose. We have access to a never-ending library of music, and it doesn’t take up any physical space beyond whatever device we’re listening on. It is convenient especially when I’m working at my desk. I just click on Spotify, search for whatever I’m wanting to hear, or click on a playlist, and there you have it. Instant music.
Then there are times like last Saturday night. It was after dinner, and my husband Walt thumbed through the stack of records he had next to our record player. He found a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and put it on. That started an evening of listening to vinyl. We sat on the couch, had some wine, and relaxed while listening to music that we hadn’t heard in years. We took turns playing everything from Elvis Presley to George Harrison and, yes, even a copy of “That Fatal Kiss” version of A View to a Kill (My favorite version of the song) by Duran Duran. It was a really nice evening, and we didn’t spend a dime, or even leave the house.
Recently, I was reading some posts in a Facebook group for fans of The Killers. Someone asked a very pointed question about people who still buy CD’s, noting that streaming is “so much better”. The person surmised that perhaps a lot of people bought the actual music for memorabilia purposes. The topic got my attention, and I read through the thread. There were many who, like the poster, only stream the music. Many mentioned the financial effectiveness of doing so, citing that they could essentially stream a song 50,000 times before it cost them the same as a CD (assuming they pay at all). On the other hand, responders commented that streaming doesn’t pay the artists well. Another person mentioned audio quality, and still another commented on the artwork. Several others agreed that streaming had it’s place, but that for some bands, they wanted the music.
The replies to those reasons were…well…interesting. It was clear that the agenda became more about pointing out the “old” values of MY generation than it was truly about discussing the merits of streaming. None of the reasons for obtaining physical copies seemed to hold water with the original poster, even when discussions of musical quality or the enjoyment of holding something tangible in ones hand.
I am one of those who likes having physical copies. My collection doesn’t really include CD’s, but I do have albums. I don’t buy everything I hear, but the things I like most, I make a point to purchase. I also pay for premium streaming services, knowing that while most of it goes into the Fat Cats who own and run Spotify, a teensy bit of it (fractions of pennies in most cases), makes its way down to the artist. Granted, I don’t pay for Spotify purely because of that—I pay because the service is better for me that way. I hate ads.
Truthfully, I sat there becoming more and more frustrated as I read the thread last night, until I finally just stopped reading. There were a number of things that bothered me in the thread, not the least of which being that I hated feeling old. Constantly these days, I’m hearing that the things I love and care about are the “old ways”. I sound like my parents! So, yes, there’s a bit of that, but it’s also that it would seem that the young have so little regard for anything beyond their devices.
They grew up in a different time, I guess. That goes as much for my children as anyone else’s. My kids don’t buy music. They stream. They look at the 5,000+ albums we have lovingly curated in our collection and think we’re nuts for lugging it around with us. I remember when we moved and Gavin, our son, wanted to know if all of it was “going to Goodwill?” (That’s a charity shop for those who don’t know). Uh, no Gavin, it’s not. Load them up into the van, please! He was appalled, and very sweaty by the time he was done moving the boxes into the truck!
For me, the artwork is as important as the music. I must admit, that is a strange thing for me to say. Amanda and I recently gave Nick (yes, THAT Nick) a bunch of crap on a Vodka Friday episode about “perfectly pretty” albums and packaging before releasing the music “into the wild”. Point taken. Still wish we could get a little snippet or two in advance of the release date that is so far off into the future none of us know it yet, but point taken, nonetheless. (and he didn’t even have to say a single word to us…)
Regardless, I like holding an album in my hand. I enjoy smelling the cardboard (oh yes, I am one of those weirdos), feeling the smoothness of the gatefold and seeing every single bit of magic in the cover art. That experience gives the music even more dimension, and I didn’t even get into the warmth of the vinyl sound.
I have excellent headphones for listening to music from my computer, and even those don’t beat listening to the beautiful crackle of the needle in the groove of a vinyl record. There is simply nothing on earth quite like that sound. It beckons on a cool weekday night, energizes on a weekend morning, as I sit outside with coffee, and suggests possibilities for a great evening ahead on a lazy afternoon as I’m reading a magazine on my couch.
Streaming has its purpose. I certainly appreciate the service it provides, particularly when I am trying to find new music to review for The Encore Club. (We review The Killers new album, Imploding the Mirage, and Erasure’s Neon on our next episode!) I just happen to think that physical copies deserve a place on my turntable, too.
Call it nostalgia, call it a symptom of being an audiophile, or you can just say I’m old. I guess that’s fine. What about you?